Disciple making movement practitioners read and re-read the Great Commission again and again. If there was one verse that represents the mission of the church it would be Matthew 28:16-20 “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshipped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Here are 5 important things you may have missed.
1. It was birthed from doubt
In a moment of doubt Jesus gave us the Great Commission. It was in the midst of worshipping Jesus that doubt came over the 11 disciples. We don’t know what they doubted. Their doubt lead Jesus to make a clear and clarifying mission statement. Throughout the book of Acts we see how they lived this out. They had doubt, they got clarity, the got on with it. Matthew’s final words bring clarity and remove any doubt for the disciples.
2. It doesn’t begin with a command but a position
In dispelling their doubt, Jesus doesn’t begin with a command but a position. Who he is and who we are come before what we do. ‘BEING’ comes before ‘DOING’. Try and make disciples without being in the right relationship with Jesus is like to trying to fill a cup while it’s upside down. The cup doesn’t get filled and you stay thirsty. So, be careful. When you begin with doing the ministry you run the risk of moving the focus away from Jesus and onto yourself.
In the busyness of ministry it’s easy to make it about you. It’s not about you. It’s about Jesus. Jesus is the one to whom all authority, on heaven has been given. You access that authority through him. It is liberating when Jesus it is the heart of the Great Commission and not your effort alone. Keep Jesus at the centre of it all.
3. Baptism is more than getting people wet
It took me a while (years in fact) to realise this simple truth about baptism – baptised people baptise. At baptism we hand the baton of responsibility to the newly baptised person. Effectively we are saying to them, “You come under the authority of Jesus now. He has appointed you a minister of reconciliation, an Ambassador of good news. Go and make disciples ….”
The organisational chart of Jesus is very flat. There is Jesus at the top and then the rest of us. We are co-workers with each other. For sure, some carry specific roles and fill certain officers such as Elder or Pastor, but the responsibility for making disciples lies with all of us. If you want a disciple making movement the work needs to move from you to everyone.
4. The leadership role isn’t to make disciples (not directly anyway)
If we don’t pass the baton at baptism then a common error takes place in the church. The leadership take up responsibility for making disciples. That’s a HUGE mistake. When leadership bear the responsibility of making disciples the focus move from making disciples of all nations to making disciples in ‘my’ church.
A lot of time and resources go into helping the congregation be healthy disciples of Jesus. While that’s a noble cause it lacks the fullness of what Jesus is saying. Learning to follow Jesus involves actively living out the Great Commission.
There is a difference between seeking to help someone grow in their faith and teaching that person to help someone else to grow in their faith. The former helps those added to the church to be healthy. Yes, the church will grow at least until the leadership hits their capacity to care and teach. The later, however, leads to multiplication removing the capacity bottleneck of the leadership. Do you want addition or multiplication?
5. The promise of Jesus.
Jesus finishes with a promise. He doesn’t promise that those you reach out to will welcome you. And he doesn’t promise they will appreciate you. He doesn’t even promise comfort or a successful ministry.
Jesus promises himself. The outcome of living out the Great Commission is the presence of Jesus in your life. And if you are looking for a sure way to be welcomed, appreciated, fulfilled and satisfied, then hanging with Jesus is the way to go.
What are some things that you noticed about the Great Commission that struck you after years of reading it again and again and again? If you are interested in being a part of a disciple making movement then let’s have a coffee.